Tuesday, November 13, 2007

out of this all-encompassing trip

Every other week, there is an exam. And it's fine, and the frequency has this dulling effect. Before the exam today, I remarked to a classmate, "Is it bad that I just don't care anymore?" It wasn't a statement of bravado or one of whinging either (and believe me, there's been plenty of that from most of the camps of my class). It was plaintive, fact.

The only thing left from the early days of these tests, the only hint of any drive is that I still need a song. It's always been this way. I need some bouncy tune to keep my feet moving forward towards school in the morning, some song to pulse through my head while I sort my way through multiple choice questions. This week, it's been Can't Believe A Single Word by VHS or Beta. I'm not sure if this band is any good or not, in fairness. All I know is this song is a perfect kind of indie pop that will keep your head nodding. Sometimes I worry that I will start humming in the middle of an exam. I know I should be fretting and sweating, but I think it's all part of this wtf attitude that develops over time. It happens to some neurons- you fire too many times, they adapt and get desensitized.

Some of my classmates are starting to question what they got themselves into. I am not unsympathetic to their situation. Truth be told, and I think this is why I manage to get along with a pack of youngsters a decade younger than me, I respect their dedication. They are giving up a lot. Some people think I've given up a lot to go to medical school. And while I think anyone who goes through this type of schooling has to make some sacrifices, I feel like my classmates' are in some ways more sad.

I didn't necessarily love my early 20s. It's not as though I was living life without a care in the world. But I was working a lot out for myself, I was defining boundaries and relationships, sorting out what I found important in life and what I didn't. The trouble with making a serious decision in your early 20s is that it's harder to really think of all the possibilities, the endless possibilities.

Schooling or any experience like this forces you to pare down to just the bare necessities. This past weekend, it took every last bit of willpower not to pull out a skein of yarn and start making a sweater. I had to hold back from the urge to bake cookies as a test-run for the upcoming holiday season. It is sometimes tempting to miss those days when I was at leisure to throw a whole weekend away.

But I have the benefit of having actually done all of that in the past, and knowing that, while enjoyable, it wasn't enough. I know I need to do what I'm doing. But I also, so far, know how to carve out the right piece of provisional time for myself. Even though I have exams this week, this past weekend I visited the broseph in SF (where, I was surprised to find, Fritz has moved to the Mission, which is a bit jarring, because I associate that restaurant so wholly with Hayes Valley). Next weekend, I'm going to see The Cold War Kids at The Warfield. I rationalized making muffins last week because I brought them in for my classmates. And while I haven't knit a sweater, I have been plugging away at a pair of socks.

Flexibility is useful. If you think you can't handle hanging out with people 10 years younger than you, if you think you can't handle giving up some dearly held hobbies, if you think you can't become more frugal once you've made a good wage, then you won't be able to handle it. But it's more than that. It's also figuring out that one size does not fit all. I never had a problem with who I was or what my life was in San Francisco. But I also know that who I am here and what my life is here does not resemble that former life very much. For a different set of circumstances, a different set of characteristics manifest, emerge.

For my classmates, it's tough, because it's harder to see this when you haven't lived through it a few times. And some people need commitment and certainty. I can't say where I'll be in five years, or what kind of life I'll be leading. But I am acutely aware that I have a large say in the outcomes for both.

Besides which, Thanksgiving is around the corner, which means I will indulge in the knit/bake/solitude-fest to end all.

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